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June 27, 2014

Consultants encourage performing arts center for downtown area

EDMOND — Recommendations for the Downtown Master Plan encourages the city to continue exploring the feasibility of a Performing Arts Center in downtown Edmond.

The Fort Worth-based consulting group Freese and Nichols presented to the Edmond City Council an update of the Downtown Master Plan this week.

“This is a game-changer. This is a major anchor that could happen in the downtown area,” said Cody Richardson, project planner.

Meetings among the consultants, city staff and the University of Central Oklahoma have set the tone for creating a conceptual plan of development. They considered the advantages and challenges of placing a performing arts center in the downtown area.

“I think our conclusion is that this would be an awesome inclusion to the downtown area. We’re not quite there yet,” Richardson said.

Challenges for constructing the performing arts center are the building size itself, land size, parking and funding, Richardson said. The foot print ranges from 80,000 to 100,000 square feet, which would take up an entire block of the downtown area.

One potential area recommended for the facility is somewhere in the University Village area between Boulevard and University Drive.

“The other area we looked at was near Stephenson Park,” Richardson said. “If this was in the blocks between Stephenson Park and Broadway, that as a gateway building into your downtown would be amazing.”

The Downtown Master Plan is a performance standard for what Edmond wants, said Wendy Shabay, project manager.

“We do know with every developer that comes in or project that comes in, there’s always going to be some tweaking,” Shabay said. “The overall plan is just to set a framework for those projects to happen.”

Approval of a comprehensive master plan will come after more public discussions with the City Council.

A public buy-in of the plan will be essential for revising the downtown design guidelines, Shabay said. The city should clearly articulate and define the guidelines and the requirements for developers, Shabay said. The downtown design guidelines were crafted in the late 1990s and early 2000s by the Central Edmond Urban Development Board, which now functions mostly as a zoning and planning commission specifically for the Central Business District.

Jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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